September 21, 2012
The Next Best Thing: Jennifer Weiner
Ruth has lived with her Grandmother for most of her life, ever since the accident that cost Ruth her parents and left her scared for life. Graduating from college, she decides to move to Hollywood to pursue her dream of being a writer. With her grandmother along for the ride they set out. Grandma thrives working as an extra, with a boyfriend, and friends in the community center. While Ruth works, as an assistant, she writes hoping to get her own show on TV.
With hard work, a broken heart, and trying to find her way in a society obsessed with beauty with a scared appearance Ruth attempts to find her happiness in Hollywood. She thinks she is getting her dream when her show is picked up. But, she just has to realize how much she may have to compromise or give up in order to actually live her dream.
Personally, I enjoyed this book more than some of Weiner's other recent stories. I enjoyed how she concentrated on one plot line and primarily on one character, with the supporting characters around Ruth. Instead of spreading the plot around multiple main characters and all the others that surrounded around each of the different characters. You had just one person to get behind and follow, that I felt I could really get behind more, while sometimes I get overwhelmed with having to follow and care about multiple characters. I enjoyed her other books, but going back to focusing on one person and the world that surrounds her lets me get behind that one person better. I am glad that this is more back to the roots of Weiner's early works.
If you had a chance to pickup Weiner's kindle novella Swim earlier this year, it was the inspiration for this novel and introduces us to Ruth. There were elements in this novella that weren't in The Next Best Thing, that I missed a bit, but having read both of them I was able to see all the elements, but wish if there was going to be some overlap that it all could have been there.
I am going to give this book 4 stars as it a great Weiner work and had characters that you could get behind and appreciate. But, it did still leaving you wanting a little more. I appreciated how it reflected Weiner's personal experience of having had a TV show picked up and dropped last season and I will miss The Great State of Georgia which I had tried to catch on hulu as I don't have cable. As always I look forward to more from Weiner as I always do and hope she keeps building more characters that we as readers can get behind and relate too.